Books and Documents

Islamic Culture

Peer, who I have a fleeting memory of in rediff.com’s office, strokes the script with unflinching scenes of terror and tension that afflicted the population of Kashmir, caught in the crossfire between militants and army. I haven’t read his acclaimed Curfewed Night but I do recall this heart-breaking diary, which offers a disturbing glimpse of the horror he encountered personally. He even appears in a brief cameo doing what may seem amusing at first but is mostly a painful reminder of scars left on a tortured psyche.......


The liberal democratic system allowing individual freedom of speech, freedom of expression etc. is fine, but there must be limits to such freedom, particularly when there is an undeniable tendency to take advantage of it. If Sharia Law is attempted to be introduced surreptitiously under the guise of religious freedom, then such attempts should be considered to be thwarted; otherwise bigger problems may arise in future which may threaten the very fabric of the society.....


Ibn-e-Safi, the Man:  Stranger Than Fiction
Nadeem F. Paracha

I don’t anymore though, outgrowing the fantastic sounding cities and countries full of quirky spies, strange gadgets and racy plots that Safi offered in his novels, making him one of Pakistan’s most popular and best-selling Urdu novelists of all time.....


Shahid Sajjad:  A Study in Bronze
Irfan Husain

It is unsurprising that art has little place in a society as racked by violence and as warped by greed as Pakistan is today. Artists, too, are marginal figures unless they are good at self-promotion. And Shahid Sajjad was the very antithesis of a pushy person blowing his own trumpet: modest to the point of becoming a recluse in his last few years, he let his work speak for itself.....


Mehdi Hasan may not be with us, but his repertoire will continue to enthrall music lovers in all times to come……


12 Songs from Pakistan’s Mountains, Deserts, Shrines and Streets
Nadeem F. Paracha

Interestingly, though both, the 20th century secular Pakhtun nationalists, as well as the more religious and conservative expressions of Pakhtun identity, celebrated the Pakhtun culture’s militaristic tenor, Pakhtun folk music is remarkably romantic and poetic in nature, with the singers mostly voicing sagas of longing for their beloveds (who are in some foreign land), or for the mountains and rivers of the Pakhtun lands that the singer misses.....


He had come from Bombay where he had been leading a hard but fruitful life for twelve years. In the preface to his collection of short stories titled Yazeed, Manto mentioned that he considered Bombay his Doosra Watan – after Amritsar where he spent his boyhood and early youth – and called himself Chalta-Phirta Bambai. “Wherever I stay, I’ll make my own world.”....


Women, Urdu and Bollywood
Aijaz Zaka Syed

It’s not possible to disagree with the argument that if Indian Muslims are at the bottom of the heap in many ways, their women are at the bottom of this bottom. I could understand why my friend was appalled though. The expression employed was crude even if candid.  The Progressive Writers’ Movement, to which Kaifi belonged, tended to use such strong language to shock and awaken the sleepy social conscience…..


Pahela Baishakh: Beyond Kurtas and Saris
Afsan Chowdhury

Baishakhi is a festival of harvesting and commercial year launching. It has been in Bengal and in many parts of India since the time of Akbar the Mughal during whose rule the revenue system was reorganised. It’s the time of renewal, promises and inclusion of all in a socio-economic system. It’s therefore a festival without religious overtones….


It could be argued that these fine Islamic arts are more advantaged nowadays in Turkey, blossoming along with the recent spiritual revival in the country. Anyone visiting or living in Turkey nowadays is certain to encounter the different genres of these fine arts of Islam. This is clear from many examples of Turkish architecture in the form of mosques and former palaces, great poetry….


Sufi Music Makes Comeback in Iraq
Amal Sakr

When reading or hearing about Sufi music, one immediately imagines a “spiritual session” during which Mouwashshas (a form of classical Arabic poem) are sung, as Sufi music in Iraq is linked to the Kasnazani order — known for their performances involving “whirling dervishes” — in addition to the Qadiri order. During their evening performances and religious occasions, Sufis usually recite poems and beat drums to create rhythm. ....


Shah Abdul Latif:  The Voice of Love
Sadia Dehlvi

The young poet fell in love with the daughter of Mirza Mughal Beg, a proud scion of the Afghan rulers. Although Shah’s family happened to draw their lineage from the family of Prophet Muhammad, there was a difference in the social status of the families. The ruling family was aristocratic, while the Shahs came from a family of mystics. In 1713, robbers assassinated Mughal Beg and decamped with all his riches. Reduced to poverty, the Mirza family eventually agreed to give their daughter in marriage to Shah, who had by then gained fame as a poet…..


The 10 Best Pakistani Political/Social Parody Songs … Ever!
Nadeem F. Paracha

Aziz Mian was the wild man of Pakistani Quawwali. Long-haired, almost always sloshed on his favourite brand of whisky, and punctuating his Quawwalis with sudden spoken-word interludes that he would shout out as if he was having an argument with God and the conservative clergy. Though the Sabri Brothers too came from the same Sufi-music background as Aziz Mian, they were more subdued and harmonious in their approach towards their music.....


Dhaka: The Enduring City
Milia Ali

Beneath Dhaka's unattractive façade lies a compassionate soul. The city and its people have a great ability to accept and adapt. From a quaint town of the '70s it has transformed into a bustling city -- reinventing itself to accommodate the rapid changes. But, despite all its urbanisation Dhaka still retains touches of its rustic self… The other day I was shopping in Gulshan 2. A hawker sitting with his basket of Dhaka cheese offered me a big chunk. When I told him I had no cash left on me he said: “Aapa, please take it, you can pay me tomorrow....


Iran has already tried to block Western music and movies and social media. But they cannot block them successfully. These technological influences are even more powerful and more effective and corrosive than the invasion of Western fast food. No radar system and no Internet block and no diet can possibly protect Iran from the real secret weapons of the West. It just won’t work. Freedom cannot be blocked. Here’s to a year free of fear and filled with freedom.....


There Is No Single Islamic Culture
Mohamad Jebra

What most converts to Islam seem to miss is that Islam is a spiritual and religious system, it is not an alternative to one’s cultural and national identity. In fact, wherever you go in the world you will find a unique and harmonious merging of Islamic and local values. Sub-Saharan Africa has a unique Islamic culture, which greatly differs from Chinese Muslim culture, which, likewise, greatly varies from Balkan Islamic culture…..

The ‘Evil’ In Our Textbooks
Madiha Afzal

Our penchant for conspiracy theories also falls into place. We are taught that Muslims were victimised before Partition. The British conspired with the Hindus and the Congress to do so. One of the reasons given for “the fall of East Pakistan” is “international conspiracies”, with players as diverse as Russia, India and America conspiring against us. Little wonder, then, that we have an unhealthy sense of national paranoia….


The ‘Swinging Seventies’ In Pakistan: An Urban History
Nadeem F. Paracha

The shrine culture, pertaining to the devotional, recreational, and economic activity around the shrines of ancient Muslim saints, had been around in the subcontinent for almost a thousand years. The saints’ Islam was more accommodating than dogmatic, and a largely permissive culture of ecstatic devotional music, innovative rituals and indigenous intoxicants started to take shape around the shrines, mostly involving poor farmers, the dispossessed, (and later,) the urban lumpen proletariat....


My Name Is Pakistan and I’m Not an Arab
Nadeem F. Paracha

The point is, instead of assimilating the finer points of the diverse religious and ethnic cultures that our history is made of and synthesise them to form a more convincing and grounded nationalism and cultural identity, we have decided to reject our diverse and pluralistic past and instead adopt cultural dimensions of a people who, ironically, still consider non-Arabs like Pakistanis as second-class Muslims....

Religion and Rituals
Dilnawaz Qamar

Practices of rites and rituals without changing lives confine the religion to the precincts of a mosque, a church, a temple or holy place. Religion is practical that changes one inside out, not only a set of actions performed daily, weekly, monthly or yearly. It is our choice to become either an ignorant dummy or one seeking the will of God....


The Truth behind ‘Arabisation’ Of Pakistani Culture
Aasim Sajjad Akhtar

‘Arabisation’ not only flies in the face of the more liberal and fluid cultural practices that have prevailed in this region since antiquity, but also more damningly is the primary impetus behind the militant Jihadi upsurge. I largely agree with this perspective, although such general hypotheses necessarily oversimplify social reality....

Timbuktu Libraries in Exile
Community – Seattle, Washington, United States

In 2012, under threat from fundamentalist rebels, a team of archivists, librarians, and couriers evacuated an irreplaceable trove of manuscripts from Timbuktu at great personal risk. The manuscripts have been saved from immediate destruction, but the danger is not over. A massive archival effort is needed to protect this immense global heritage from loss....


The Islamisation of a Culture
Rana Allam

I do not want to imagine what kind of culture this minister will enforce in our cinemas, books, music, arts and cultural centres! These, along with their censorship committee, are under the leadership of the Islamist Alaa Abdel Aziz. But will they be able to censor Egyptian youth?...

Connecting Minds — Creating the Future
Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Connecting Minds — Creating the Future
Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

More than 1,200 years ago, while Europe was in its Dark Ages, the Muslim world was ruled by a dynasty of Islamic leaders who embraced free thought and creativity from all corners of the globe. Never before had history witnessed such cultural openness and symbiosis as during the reign of the Abbasid Caliphs. They built the world’s first university, named it Bayt Al Hikma (House of Wisdom) and filled its library with the finest cultural, scientific and literary creations known to mankind....


Muslim women do need liberating — not from Islam — from their indigenous cultural practices, often conflated with Islam. Muslims must not be reticent; they need to bear the responsibility for the liberation of Muslim women and ensure that they are not deprived of the rights granted to them by Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) more than 1,400 years ago....

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  • Is there any book of sharia law? I want to read it .'
    ( By Ravi Kumar )
  • @Hanif Uz Jaman The Hadiths was compiled after 200 years . How authentic can it be ?'
    ( By Ravi Kumar )
  • No god made any laws laws are made by peoples only.'
    ( By Mrinal Dey )
  • @Mrinal Dey yes it should be applied . Rape will stop in india . Daughters will get thier share from property which non muslims don't ...
    ( By Ravi Kumar )
  • Sharia Laws Should Be Applied To Indian Muslims .'
    ( By Prabhakar Katkar )
  • First we have to understand Allah ...from Allah's book ...not by any other hadith. ... sahabas did it -we have historical hadith'
    ( By Hanif Uz Jaman )
  • When it comes to morality, religion in general has proven that it is not a secure source of moral development and moral behaviour. Even if ...
    ( By Ashok Sharma )
  • the ridda wars thoroughly debunk the freedom of conscience myth. if the first caliph murdered people who apostatized, it means that there is absolutely no freedom ...
    ( By hats off! )
  • Mr. Manzurul Haque , please recognize that many millions are living without religion and happily so. Most ....
    ( By Ashok Sharma )
  • This Qur´an is not such as can be produced by other than Allah; on the contrary it is a confirmation of (revelations) that went before ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Your question is once again on ability and not on facts. Have patience until I cover...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • GM Sb, There is no morality outside religion and there are no moral principles outside religion...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Worth considering
    ( By Syed Ahson )
  • Mollah Mostly because a controversial issues,surely sharia,&it's propagation,,meaningful proliferation,, is based Islamic....
    ( By M A Ohab )
  • No Verse of the Quran is abrogated and no verse of the Quran contradicts another verse from the Quran.Read: Is the Quran a Book of ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • A clarion call for some serious introspection on our part!
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • To be acceptable, a shura should be compatible with our image of God, the Almighty Master of the Universe, the benevolent, merciful and forgiving. ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • We do not have an argument about "the unparalleled excellence with which the Quran teaches us the moral way of living." The .....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Naseersaab, Instead of playing with words, just say whether moral precepts can be created only by the Divine. Yes....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Sharia Laws Should Be Applied To Indian Muslims
    ( By Prabhakar Katkar )
  • Ashok Sharma ji. Which atheism you are talking about? Western atheism or Hindu atheism? '
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • CRITICISM OF SULTAN SHAHIN? First of all, had it not been for the efforts of men like Sultan Shahin and millions of others, you....
    ( By Mike Ghouse )
  • Hats off. Do kan khul gayi kya? Lage raho munnabhai!'
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • No, not at all. Please read the last para. The "them" refers to countries you refer to....
    ( By Rashid Samnakay )
  • by the way, all the beautiful surahs were produced when the prophet was still recruiting for his army, and was an insignificant minor leader....
    ( By hats off! )
  • One cannot discuss the question of succession without raising a bitter controversy. The dispute has caused....
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche....
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • GM Sb, You don't even know what the hypothesis is! Read the article again. What darkness....
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Let us bury the dead and find ways to forget past events
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • Three utterances of talaq by husband in one sitting in a state of anger or under influence of liquor Orr otherwise, cannot confer legitimacy ...
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • Sir: The real trouble with Muslims all over the globe,is quite simple,we will accept whatever suits us or FLAVOUR OF THE DAY'....
    ( By Syed Ali )
  • Did they whirl in close embrace, genital of one touching the other. Lo and behold, I saw a distant relative doing this with a maulvi-type ...
    ( By Manzurul Haque )
  • The Quran's challenge to produce a Sura which can match its Sura does
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • Disagreement is Not Intolerance What exactly are all those nasty atheists doing that causes religious believers to complain about....
    ( By Ashok Sharma )
  • The issue is whether there is a hypothesis of the theists which says that moral precepts can be created only by the Divine. There is ...
    ( By Ghulam Mohiyuddin )
  • All rules of conduct are human made. They are the result of requirements necessary for cooperation in maintaining social order. The higher animals, including....
    ( By Ashok Sharma )
  • Excellent piece of scholarly writing enlightening our faith, strengthening our bond further with the Lord of the universe.'
    ( By Raihan Nezami )
  • Mr Rashid Samnakay. Do you mean these European countries and Americans who are bombarding in Syria are Muslims? Who destroyed Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya etc ...
    ( By Raihan Nezami )
  • (24:35) Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The Parable of His Light is as if there were a Niche and within ...
    ( By Naseer Ahmed )
  • Aayinaji, I have fallen in love with your language, half of which I do not understand. I thought you were Hindi medium, but now I ...
    ( By Manzurul Haque )